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Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

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The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky.
Buffie Barbee, who was eleven years old and lived two houses down, was playing in her back yard when she smelled the smoke. She ran inside and told her mother, Diane, and they hurried up the street; that’s when they saw the smoldering house and Cameron Todd Willingham standing on the front porch, wearing only a pair of jeans, his chest blackened with soot, his hair and eyelids singed. He was screaming, “My babies are burning up!” His children—Karmon and Kameron, who were one-year-old twin girls, and two-year-old Amber—were trapped inside.
Willingham told the Barbees to call the Fire Department, and while Dia…

Philippines: Death penalty debate set early 2017

House Deputy Speaker Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro yesterday said the discussions on the bill to reinstate death penalty, a priority legislative measure of President Duterte, will be moved to early next year, so that congressmen would have a thorough plenary debate.

In a radio interview, Castro said he was responsible for moving back the bill's discussion on the floor because he wanted to prepare to defend it at the plenary.

Castro is one of the principal authors of House Bill No. 1, which seeks to reimpose capital punishment for heinous crimes after it was abolished by then President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

"We have to let people know, make them understand and study this measure because at first glance, you could say you don't want this bill because life should be respected. This is a reason that is based on one's belief in God and what they call human rights," Castro said in Filipino.

"It's funny because our people might again be misled. This is why I myself said I want to prepare for the debate because I will be the one to stand at the plenary. I will be the one to fight for this bill...there would be very good interpellators who are now saying they have not made up their mind whether or not they would support this bill," Castro said.

He said the measure could be passed in the Lower House if there would be daily plenary debates on it.

Castro also said he informed House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Farinas, his coauthors, that the proposal should not single out drug dealing and drug use.

Castro said if he had his way, he would add more crimes that are as heinous as the use and sale of illegal drugs to be punishable by death - crimes such as illegal recruitment, plunder, economic sabotage and human trafficking, including the ones conducted via cyberspace.

There are 21 heinous crimes proposed to be punishable by death in the bill approved by the House justice committee - a number which Castro still considers "too small."

Among the "heinous crimes" included in House Bill No. 1 are treason, qualified piracy, qualified bribery, parricide, murder, infanticide, rape, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, robbery with violence, destructive arson, plunder.

It also includes dangerous drug importation, sale and trading, manufacture, possession, cultivation and unlawful prescription, misappropriating confiscated illegal drugs and planting of evidence by public officers, and car theft.

Source: newsinfo.inquirer.net, December 12, 2016

Thousands join march against death penalty


Thousands of Catholic church parishioners, students and officials in Pangasinan joined Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) President and Lingayen-Dagupan Archdiocess Bishop Socrates Villegas on Monday afternoon in a prayer rally against the passage of the death penalty bill and the drug-related killings.

The rally, organized by Catholic leaders, was also joined by seminarians, nuns and former and incumbent politicians from the different towns of the province at about 3:45 p.m.

The protesters walked along the streets of this city holding placards and streamers bearing their grievances against the passage of the death penalty.

In a homily before the start of the rally, Villegas said the government, particularly members of both Congress, are pro-death and pro-poor, which is in violation of the gospel of the lord and the No.5 of the 10 commandments - "Thou shall not kill."

He urged Catholic lawmakers to withhold support from any attempt to restore the penalty, as well as the Catholic jurists to study the issue and to oppose through proper proceedings, the reintroduction of the capital punishment.

According to Villegas, the government pushes for the reimposition of the death punishment to justify the rampant extra-judicial killings in the country allegedly perpetrated by law enforcers.

He urged the participants to join them in other big ralliesto be staged in the provinces of Visayas, Mindanao and other parts of Luzon to convince the politicians not to pursue their plans to again impose the death penalty.

"Look at our surroundings now. There are a lot of killings even without the death penalty and if it will be reimposed, I am sure it will double the number of those killed whose victims are mostly indigents," the bishop said.

Former Pangasinan Vice Gov. Oscar Lambino, who also joined the protest march, saying the reimposition of the death penalty is not necessary to address the rampant criminality in the country especially the government's campaign against illegal drugs.

Source: The Manila Times, December 12, 2016

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